Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Christian Response to Syrian Refugees

Out of respect for BJ's position as a clergyman, I rarely state political opinions of any sort. Trust me, I have opinions; I just keep them to myself. But I can't stay silent about a particular issue going on right now. I can't not respond to the rejection of Syrian refugees by states all across America, including my home state of Texas and my current state of residence, Oklahoma.

Being the spouse of a minister, I am constantly standing on the sidelines of discussions about Christianity and America. This year, that discussion has been dominated by concerns over same-sex marriage. Christians in our neck of the woods see same-sex marriage as the greatest threat to the soul of America. At the same time, Christians all over America, including many who are in positions of prominence, are calling for the rejection of non-Christian refugees. In my opinion, the latter issue is a true battle for the soul of America.

Homosexuality is mentioned six times in the Bible. In the grand scheme of the Biblical text, it is pretty insignificant. However, taking care of the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the foreigner, taking care of these, is mentioned hundreds of times. In 2013, I read through the Bible with a reading group, and I was surprised to find that the tirades of the prophets were not admonishments of the sins I'd been raised to believe were the worst offenses (adultery, fornication, drunkenness, et cet.). But rather, God's anger voiced through the prophets was anger over their negligence of the poor and of the oppressed. In other words, if you want to make God really angry, then turn your back on the people who need your help.

And on a purely practical level, if our goal is to combat terrorism, than our greatest weapon is not a drone. Rather, it is education and the alleviation of fear and poverty. When I see the pictures of the Syrian refugees, what I see is children. Lots of children. Children as vulnerable and as moldable as Shepherd and Lydia and Violet. If we give them a safe place to grow and to be educated, then the chances of them being radicalized dramatically diminishes. When we act out of hope and love, then the terrorists lose.

To close, here are a few verses that I believe speak to this situation.

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

And let us never forget that our Savior was once a refugee: "Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.' So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.'" Matthew 2:13-15